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What do rising food prices mean for world politics? by Anna
June 29, 2011, 1:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

In March 2011, food prices were at an all-time high and had been climbing steadily for 8 months running. We all know that for the world’s 2 billion poorest people – who spend 50- 70% of their income on food – the likely consequence is going from eating two meals a day to eating only once. But what do rising prices mean for world politics?

In this Foreign Policy article , Lester Brown shows how rising demand (219,000 more people to feed every night due to population growth, and 3 billion people with enough income now to increase demand for meat), and limited production gains (with more grain than ever going to bio-fuels, and crop yields leveling off as farmers max out gains from green revolution technologies) are combining to place new and extreme strain on the global food system. The result is what he calls “food nationalism” – where rich countries compete for grain imports against poorer countries, and grabs for land, for water and for food replace an international food system that has for decades been characterized by cooperation. Brown shows quite clearly how the price of grain is already tied to the price of oil, and how conflict within and between states over land, food and water is likely now a permanent feature of global geopolitics.

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